In 2007, Onslow County (N.C.) Public Schools agreed to work with Digital Millennial Consulting (DMC), a private consulting firm offering education technology solutions to schools and state agencies, in pioneering Project K-Nect, a mobile learning initiative aimed to increase math proficiency. The program, funded in part through Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative, provided high school students in this rural district with smartphones equipped with DMC monitoring software that tracked their usage of the devices and provided a safe network through which they could collaborate. Project Tomorrow, a nonprofit education organization, evaluated the program during the 2009-2010 school year and found that not only did math scores increase, but teachers changed their manner of instruction and students were more engaged than ever.
When the project first began, one-third of the students did not have access to the Internet at home, says Julie Evans, executive director of Project Tomorrow. The goal was not only to improve math scores, but to bridge the digital divide.
According to Evans, the monitoring software was a critical component of this program. “Monitoring software is the next step in the maturation process of mobile devices,” says Evans. “There’s a greater interest in products that provide that type of security, and DMC provided it for Onslow.”
Judy Copeland, Onslow County director of instructional technology, says teachers were paired with a licensed technology facilitator to help them make the transition to use mobile devices in the classroom. Evans feels that these mobile devices may just be the “magic wand” needed for teachers to comfortably and seamlessly incorporate technology into the classroom. “These devices proved to be the perfect catalyst to get teachers to shift to a different teaching practice,” she says.
In fall 2011, Onslow County Public Schools replaced the smartphone mobile devices with HTC Flyer tablet computers with funding from several other grants. Although expansion of the project is contingent on funding, Copeland says, “the district is lead by a superintendent who is determined to find the funding.”
Visit www.tomorrow.org to view Project Tomorrow’s report.